Homeschooling Ideas for a Reader

homeschooling for a reader

I am amazed at how different children can be-especially siblings!  Earlier I posted some of our ideas on homeschooling a child with dyslexia.  Today I am going to post on some of our ideas on homeschooling a child who doesn’t want to stop reading!  My daughter is a reader.  She loves to read.  We have to constantly tell her to put the book down to get out of the car, to walk into the store so she won’t walk into anyone, to go to bed….you get the idea.  She always has a book in her hand.  Yes, the fact that she loves to read is awesome-however, it can also make homeschooling a challenge.

Reading, spelling and grammar are not really major areas of concern.  She is an amazing speller but I continue her spelling program to reinforce what she knows from reading.  She reads amazingly well.  I do continue to have her read aloud for at least a few minutes each day.  Grammar is interesting.  If she sees a page that has improper grammar, she can spot it quickly (she is a good editor); however, grammar does not come naturally when she writes.  Thus, most of her grammar I have her fix.  She writes a paragraph.   I have her take a break from it and come back to it the next day.  She then edits her own errors and does fairly well.  If she does not take a break, she doesn’t slow down and edit properly.

Math: How do you get a child who likes to read to do math?  Find math story books!  Our favorite series is the Life of Fred series.  All of my children read through the books; however, Sawyer reads them, works the problems and then redoes each book.  She LOVES Life of Fred!  The stories are funny and relevant.

Science and History:  Another area that I have to be very inventive.  I have stated in the past that I am a very eclectic homeschooling teacher.  We mainly use the Waldorf approach but in this case we use as many living books as possible (more of a Charlotte Mason method).  Living books are simply books that children can relate to.  Living books tell a story that becomes real and that you can feel like you are living.  For example, this year one of Sawyer’s blocks included Judaism.  She read books on Judaism but she did it begrudgingly.  I also had her read The American Girl Series Rebecca.  Rebecca is a little girl who grew up NYC and her family is Jewish.  Sawyer learned exactly what I wanted her to learn.  She learned how Judaism effects a person’s everyday life and the historical events that are celebrated throughout the year by people of the Jewish faith.  Finding living books that relate to what you are trying to teach can be a challenge but it is doable (I actually found one about a family that harvests silk worms during our textile block-that took a lot of researching!).

Organization: Now it may just be my reader that is completely disorganized but I hear from other parents that organization is an issue for their readers as well.  When Sawyer begins reading, she does not stop (a good thing right?  not when you are trying to do school work!).  We use the timer on the microwave a lot.  She can read first thing after breakfast for 30 minutes.  The timer is terrific for a lot of things.  We use it to limit her time reading during school time and as a motivator for activities that she does not want to do.  We set the timer for 10 or 15 minutes.  She sees the time going by and she is able to continue with grammar or spelling.  Getting through all of her work in a day can be a challenge as well.  I am still working on this one and am open for  We tried a daily workplan, a weekly workplan, a workbox type of system in which she moved a card from needs to be done to the done side and simply me asking her what she has completed.  I saw on a post recently (I cannot remember where so I cannot give them the credit right now, but if I figure out I will) a method with clothes pins in a jar.  The clothes pins are snapped around the top of the jar and as the activity is complete, the clothes pin is dropped into the jar.  I may give this a try this year along with a timer.

What about pesky papers?  We use our main lesson books to place all papers into.  Papers are glued, taped or stapled into the book right after it is completed.  This includes the wonderful art work that used to be floating around the house.  Once a week, she goes through her cubby to declutter.  Again, this is still a work in progress.  As she gets older and more independent, paper organization and time management will become more important goals (these will be in her goal list for this next year).

Do you have a reader?  I love suggestions!



Wonder and Living Books

When reading blogs from life-long homeschoolers, listening to speakers about homeschooling, and learning about homeschooling-the main theme is read, read, read.

Well, reading is what we do a lot of around here.  We hit the library every 2-3 weeks and load up on books.  Everyone picks a chapter book to read and several picture books or nonfiction books.  The kids also participate in a monthly book club.  Sometimes, each child reads the book individually and sometimes we read the book together as a family.

When deciding upon which book to read aloud as a family, I try to find living books.  Living books, in my mind, resonate with the reader.  In our case, I want to the children to feel that they are in the book.  I want them to empathize with the main characters in the story.  So far this school year, we read White Fang, My Father’s Dragon, The American Girl Series-Rebecca, The Horse’s Boy, Nature Girl, The Island of the Blue Dolphin, Wonder and Hoot.


I have no regrets about any of these books!  While in Florida, we finished up the book Wonder by Palacio.  Wonder is an amazing book.  Auggie, the main character, has a rare genetic deformity which effects his looks.  Otherwise, he is a typical fifth grade boy who homeschooled through fourth grade and started school in fifth grade.  So why is this such an amazing book in my opinion?  Mainly, kids can identify with it.  The book changes perspectives from Auggie to his sister to his friends to his sister’s friend.  The author does an amazing job displaying how one person is able to influence an entire group of people-in this case, in a very positive way.

For my children, who do not attend school, the book gave them a glimpse into a typical school.  Yes, Auggie had a deformity; however, he experienced much of the same drama that most fifth grade kids experience.  The book went through all of the normal school social craziness including bullying, social “wars,” trying to fit in, finding true friends, trying to stay true to your self and just attempting to keep up with school.

Running Monologues   recommended the book in a recent post.  At the time, I was in my search for our next book to read aloud.  I love when life works like that.  It made my search much easier.  I highly recommend this one as well!

Now we are on a new journey-Hoot!

The Magic of Nature

After many weeks of celebrating and reflecting, I imagined this week would be a week getting back to “normal.”  Of course, we all know what happens when one assumes.  The week started with another life celebration as Sawyer turned 8!  She was quite disappointed when she found out that her birthday was not considered a holiday, and we needed to still do some work-although, Monday’s are PE days so a good portion of her “work” was a lot of fun.

By Tuesday, I could feel the house enclosing on me and I needed to change school up a bit.  Thankfully, before I made any drastic changes, we all got out for a hike in the cool fall air at Latta.  It is amazing how much a hike can calm the nerves.  However-I still had to head back home!  We worked this week mainly out of our kitchen instead of the school room so that I could get some stuff done around the house while they worked.

It turned out to be a lot of fun and everyone enjoyed it.  As far as true school lessons, there were not as many as usual this week-but, we all experienced many life lessons this week.  We had discussions about the world as we finished reading Three Cups of Tea.  A book that has so much more to teach us than any text-book could.  We volunteered at Christmas in Davidson at the Ada Jenkins  (a center that I am a true believer in)Booth, which made them feel that they too could help others as “Dr.Greg” did in the book.  They had book club at the library.  We hiked and hiked and hiked finding our way back to our “normal” spot.


A discovery found on our hike

A discovery found on our hike

Stump-Sawyer saw this as beautiful

I love that Parks is peeking in!

I love that Parks is peeking in!

A Waldorf math on fractions that we started this week.

A Waldorf math on fractions that we started this week.

Serving Cider

Serving Cider

In front of the booth

In front of the booth

“It’s not a race;it’s an adventure”

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I just returned from my first homeschool conference.  Of course, I now feel empowered, conflicted and somewhat overwhelmed (in a good way).  If you ever consider homeschooling or know you are interested in it but need more information, take the time to go to a conference and learn!   You will leave empowered that you can teach your children and that you will succeed.   You know your child best and the tools are there to help you through.  Confliction.  The thought of what have I been doing the past few months?  The conference also gave me time to self reflect on how and what I want to teach my children.  We chose to send our children to Montessori school initially because we truly believe in the philosophy of Montessori. Dr.Montessori used the scientific method and research to develop and academic program that fosters a child to reach his or her fullest potential (spiritually, emotionally, physically and intellectually) as a member of his or her family, the community and the world.  The Montessori method encourages children to love to learn and to enjoy the process of learning.  Amazingly, after only 3 months in public/traditional schooling and I lost all of this.  When I began homeschooling Sims, I started thinking “I have to get him caught up otherwise what will happen.”  Then I started homeschooling Sawyer and I tried to find all of the “things she did not know that she should.”  How quickly I fell into the trap of our world.  As I reflected on my teaching, I realized how quickly I changed.  Learning is a process and the art of learning is what I want my children to love as they did when they were in Montessori school.   So as wonderful as self-reflection is, wow can it overwhelm you!  Once I realized how off track I have become, I then realized that most of the work I have been having the kids do is because it is what they would have been doing in traditional school.  I was focused on the output and not the process of learning.  So how do you come home and teach again knowing that you are not doing what you feel in your heart in the best way?  I have not figured that one out yet, so I will have to get back to you on that one.  At least, I have realized my mistake.  One of my favorite quotes I heard this week was from Carol Burton.  She said,
“It is not a race; it’s an adventure.”  What a terrific way to think about homeschooling!

The other quote that made me laugh was by Andrew Pudewa.  He said, “It’s not homeschooling; it’s car schooling.”  Well, that is exactly what I have felt like the past two weeks.  One thing the kids have learned is how to work everywhere and in every situation.  Before we get in the car to drop off Parks at school, Sims and Sawyer get their binders together with the work that they can do in the car and at the place we are going next.  They work in the hallway at Parks’ school, outside of the Mint Museum, at Latta Plantation, in the car, on the floor at home, and at the doctor’s office.  Thank goodness, the kids are willing to work in these situations and they are able to adapt to different situations.

Due to the distance between Parks school and home, they are in the car a lot.  We have found that books on tape are a wonderful way to fill this time.  We recently finished the book Kit Kittridge about the Great Depression.  They loved the book.  One of the fun parts of the book was learning how life in America has changed over the years.  In the book, Kit loved to type newspapers on her typewriter.  Of course, the kids had no idea what a type writer was, so we called Grand-dad.  He still has his typewriter from college.  The kids have been typing non-stop on the type writer.  The most difficult part it that there is no delete button on the type writer.  🙂

Since Kit Kittridge, they have listened to Rules and Addy.  All of these books have brought out wonderful discussions and opportunities to learn so many things that I can never teach out of a book.  The books are told from the view of a child which allows Sims and Sawyer and Parks to relate to the situation in a way that I can not teach.  Reading was the BIGGEST emphasis at the homeschool conference.  Everyone speaker there spoke about the importance of books and reading.  Especially reading aloud and audiobooks.  Since we just recently started the audiobooks and we have had some of our best discussions since then, I can truly affirm the speaker’s words.  Reading aloud can not be substituted even after your children can read silently to themselves.  Reading aloud and together not only brings you together but also brings out discussion.

So I guess the next months and year will attest to whether or not I truly learned from the conference.  I hope I do not fall back into the trap of feeling that we are “behind.”  Please, feel free to set me straight if you see or read about me falling back into my old ways.   I am amazed at how quickly I forgot what I had tried so hard to instill in my kids early on which is to love learning and to love the process of learning.

What a wonderful wealth of knowledge I gained over the past three days!